Eric Nelligan: "Labour Party Bill to Shut Down Single Sex Schools Deeply Concerning"
The Aontú Representative for Limerick City East, Eric Nelligan, has expressed 'deep concern' over a Bill which has been introduced by the Labour party which would see all single sex schools in the primary system phased out within 10 years, and within 15 years in Post Primary.
Mr Nelligan, himself a secondary school teacher in an all-male school, said:
"The Bill sponsored by Aodhan O’Riordain TD is the latest in a series of efforts to attack single sex schools and remove them from Irish education. It is proposed that single sex schools would not receive government funding unless they alter their
admission policy to make the school co-educational. The Labour party, through Deputy O’Riordain, has tried many times to tarnish and blame single sex schools for the ills in Irish society. A number of months ago a false claim about element of the girls uniform in a Carlow secondary school was used as an rallying call to end Single Sex schooling, the latest misguided effort appears to suggest that single-sex schools are contributing to gender-based violence. A claim which the Labour Party hasn’t backed up with a shred of evidence. It is as if the Labour party are implying that students, their parents that send them, and staff of single sex schools are the root cause of toxic personalities in Ireland”
Mr Nelligan continued: “There is not one piece of research or data anywhere in the world to support this view, this is a creation of deputy O’Riodain’s and one which hasn’t been adequately challenged either in the Dáil or in the media. The
World Health Organisation conducted intensive research and concluded that a number of
factors can be associated with domestic abuse, Alcohol being the main factor, single
sex education was not listed. Single Sex schooling has been reducing in Ireland since the 1970’s, not one new single sex boys or girls’ school has been opened in over 4 decades. Currently approximately 30% of Post Primary students attend Single Sex Schools and less than 20% of primary”.
“Voluntary secondary schools do not receive the same level of supports that fully funded state schools do; lower capitation grant per pupil, lower secretarial and office supports, no pastoral care supports along with higher number of teaching hours for the school assistant principals – the school middle management. Single sex school are already significantly disadvantaged. My educational upbringing has always been co-ed, I attended mixed
primary, post primary and 3rd level, the beginning of my teaching career saw me teach in co-ed schools for 4 years before moving to an all-boys school. As a teacher I see significant advantages to single sex education, boys and girls respond better from teaching different styles. Teenage girls, in general, have superior reading, verbal and organisation skills and are more mature, boys learn better visually, in short bullet points format, and prefer to ‘learn by doing’, boys also require different classroom management techniques to girls, boys can be more distracted in class and are more likely to lose concentration or challenge teachers.’’
“From an educational perspective, figures show that students in single sex school achieve higher Leaving Cert points, have a significantly higher rate of progression to University education and lower rates of early school leaving. In an era when the citizens of the country demand more choice and less authoritarianism from those in government it is disappointing that this Labour party bill would seek to remove a valid parental choice for their child’s education. There is no educational logic to this call, it boils down to a flawed ideological viewpoint about the root cause of ‘toxic’ personality traits and the
desire by the authors of the Bill to impose the Labour party brand of acceptable educational
institutions on everybody. The Labour Party Education spokesperson would serve his constituents and his brief better if he focused on campaigning for an increase in the number of teachers, on issues of pay, smaller class sizes and the many issues facing our education sector at present. Their current campaign to close schools will not prove to be popular”, concluded Nelligan.